Publications by authors named "Naveen Pemmaraju"

263 Publications

CD303 (BDCA-2) - a potential novel target for therapy in hematologic malignancies.

Leuk Lymphoma 2021 Sep 6:1-12. Epub 2021 Sep 6.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) serve as immunoregulatory antigen-presenting cells that play a role in various inflammatory, viral, and malignant conditions. Malignant proliferation of pDCs is implicated in the pathogenesis of certain hematologic cancers, specifically blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) and acute myelogenous leukemia with clonal expansion of pDC (pDC-AML). In recent years, BPDCN and pDC-AML have been successfully treated with targeted therapy of pDC-specific surface marker, CD123. However, relapsed and refractory BPDCN remains an elusive cancer, with limited therapeutic options. CD303 is another specific surface marker of human pDCs, centrally involved in antigen presentation and immune tolerance. Monoclonal antibodies directed against CD303 have been studied in preclinical models and have achieved disease control in patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus. We performed a comprehensive review of benign and malignant disorders in which CD303 have been studied, as there may be a potential future CD303-directed therapy for many of these conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428194.2021.1975192DOI Listing
September 2021

Final results of a phase 2 clinical trial of LCL161, an oral SMAC mimetic for patients with myelofibrosis.

Blood Adv 2021 08;5(16):3163-3173

Department of Leukemia.

Outcomes in patients with high-risk and treatment-resistant myelofibrosis (MF) post-JAK inhibitor therapy remain poor, with no approved drug therapies beyond the JAK inhibitor class. In certain clinical situations, such as severe thrombocytopenia, administration of most JAK inhibitors are contraindicated. Thus, there is an unmet medical need for the development of novel agents for patients with MF. SMAC mimetics [or inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) antagonists] induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Because these agents are hypothesized to have increased activity in a tumor necrosis factor-α cytokine-rich microenvironment, as is the case with MF, we conducted a single-center, investigator-initiated phase 2 clinical trial, with a monovalent SMAC mimetic LCL161 (oral, starting dose, 1500 mg per week) in patients with intermediate to high-risk MF. In an older group, 66% with ≥2 prior therapies and a median baseline platelet count of 52 × 103/μL and 28% with ASXL1 mutations, we observed a 30% objective response by Revised International Working Group-Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Research and Treatment (IWG-MRT) 2013 criteria. Notably, 6 responding patients achieved clinical improvement of anemia: 4, hemoglobin response; 2, transfusion independence. Median OS was 34 months (range, 2.2-60.1+). Reductions of cIAPs were observed in all responders. The most common toxicity was nausea/vomiting (N/V) in 64% (mostly grade 1/2); fatigue in 46%; and dizziness/vertigo in 30%. There were 4 grade 3/4 adverse events (2, syncope; 1, N/V; 1, skin eruption/pruritis). There were 2 deaths during the study period, both unrelated to the study drug. SMAC mimetics may represent an option for older patients with thrombocytopenia or for those in whom prior JAK inhibitors has failed. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT02098161.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003829DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8405193PMC
August 2021

Clinical and molecular characterization of myeloid sarcoma without medullary leukemia.

Leuk Lymphoma 2021 Aug 12:1-9. Epub 2021 Aug 12.

Department of Leukemia, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Myeloid sarcoma (MS) in the setting of concomitant medullary AML is relatively well described, while much less is known about patients presenting with MS with <20% bone marrow blasts. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 56 patients with MS with <20% marrow blasts seen at MD Anderson between 2005 and 2020. The prevalence of MS without medullary AML was 1.4% among all newly diagnosed AML patients. The majority (75%) of patients had a single known anatomic site involved, with the skin (34%) being the most frequent. The most common histologic subtype was monocytic, and 11% of patients had a known history of an antecedent hematologic disorder. The majority of patients (70%) received frontline intensive chemotherapy induction, with 75% of those evaluable attaining complete or partial responses. The median overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were 3.41 and 3.07 years, respectively. Patients with bone marrow blasts of ≥5% or medullary relapse had inferior outcomes, while age (>60 years) was not associated with outcomes. There was a suggestion that patients with isolated leukemia cutis may have had better outcomes compared to patients with other organ involvement, but this did not reach statistical significance. Most patients who had cytogenetic analysis had a diploid karyotype within their MS and bone marrow pathway mutations were enriched in MS at diagnosis, and at time of medullary relapse. Our study provides a large dataset summarizing the clinical and molecular analysis of patients with MS with <20% BM blasts and suggests that monitoring for medullary leukemia is important for early detection of relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428194.2021.1961235DOI Listing
August 2021

Phase II study of single-agent nivolumab in patients with myelofibrosis.

Ann Hematol 2021 Aug 5. Epub 2021 Aug 5.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Unit 0428, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Dysregulated JAK-STAT signaling in myelofibrosis induces pro-inflammatory cytokines, which suppresses T cell proliferation and differentiation, likely responsible for disease progression. The PD-1 pathway, found to be overexpressed in myeloid malignancies, has gained great interest as a therapeutic target, where a significant unmet need exists for novel therapeutic strategies. Preclinical models showed JAK2 mutant cells had higher expression of PD-L1; furthermore, JAK2 mutant xenografts treated with PD-1 inhibition had prolonged survival and reduction in JAK2 allele burden. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of single-agent nivolumab in 8 adult patients with myelofibrosis. Nivolumab was given at 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks for 8 doses, then every 12 weeks for up to 4 years, or until disease progression or toxicity. The median number of nivolumab doses received was 6 [range, 5-16 doses]. Five patients had stable disease including spleen size, total symptom score, and blood requirements for a median of 3.3 months [range, 2.3-15.2 months]. After a median follow-up of 57 months, two patients were still alive. The median overall survival was 6.1 months [range, 3.2-57.4 months]. Due to failure to meet the predetermined efficacy endpoint, the study was terminated early. Trial registration: Clinical trials.gov NCT: 02,421,354.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-021-04618-5DOI Listing
August 2021

Ten-day decitabine with venetoclax versus intensive chemotherapy in relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia: A propensity score-matched analysis.

Cancer 2021 Aug 3. Epub 2021 Aug 3.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Relapsed/refractory (R/R) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has poor outcomes. Although lower-intensity venetoclax-containing regimens are standard for older/unfit patients with newly diagnosed AML, it is unknown how such regimens compare with intensive chemotherapy (IC) for R/R AML.

Methods: Outcomes of R/R AML treated with 10-day decitabine and venetoclax (DEC10-VEN) were compared with IC-based regimens including idarubicin with cytarabine, with or without cladribine, clofarabine, or fludarabine, with or without additional agents. Propensity scores derived from patient baseline characteristics were used to match DEC10-VEN and IC patients to minimize bias.

Results: Sixty-five patients in the DEC10-VEN cohort were matched to 130 IC recipients. The median ages for the DEC10-VEN and IC groups were 64 and 58 years, respectively, and baseline characteristics were balanced between the 2 cohorts. DEC10-VEN conferred significantly higher responses compared with IC including higher overall response rate (60% vs 36%; odds ratio [OR], 3.28; P < .001), complete remission with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi, 19% vs 6%; OR, 3.56; P = .012), minimal residual disease negativity by flow cytometry (28% vs 13%; OR, 2.48; P = .017), and lower rates of refractory disease. DEC10-VEN led to significantly longer median event-free survival compared with IC (5.7 vs 1.5 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30-0.70; P < .001), as well as median overall survival (OS; 6.8 vs 4.7 months; HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.37-0.86; P = .008). DEC10-VEN was independently associated with improved OS compared with IC in multivariate analysis. Exploratory analysis for OS in 27 subgroups showed that DEC10-VEN was comparable with IC as salvage therapy for R/R AML.

Conclusion: DEC10-VEN represents an appropriate salvage therapy and may offer better responses and survival compared with IC in adults with R/R AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33814DOI Listing
August 2021

Venetoclax plus intensive chemotherapy with cladribine, idarubicin, and cytarabine in patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome: a cohort from a single-centre, single-arm, phase 2 trial.

Lancet Haematol 2021 Aug;8(8):e552-e561

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Addition of the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax to lower intensity therapy has been shown to improve overall survival in older (aged 75 years or older) and unfit patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia. The aim of this study was to investigate the activity of venetoclax combined with intensive chemotherapy in patients aged 65 years or younger with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Methods: This cohort study was done at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the USA, as part of the single-centre, single arm, phase 2, CLIA trial. Here we report on the independent cohort investigating the safety and activity of venetoclax added to intensive chemotherapy (the CLIA regimen [cladribine, high-dose cytarabine, idarubicin]). Eligible patients were aged 18-65 years with a new diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia, mixed phenotype acute leukaemia, or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (≥10% blasts or International Prognostic Scoring System ≥2 [intermediate]), who received no previous potentially curative therapy for leukaemia. Patients received cladribine (5 mg/m) and cytarabine (1·5 g/m for patients aged <60 years, 1 g/m for patients aged ≥60 years) intravenously on days 1-5 and idarubicin (10 mg/m) intravenously on days 1-3. Consolidation was cladribine (5 mg/m) and cytarabine (1 g/m for patients aged <60 years and 0·75 g/m for patients aged ≥60 years) on days 1-3 and idarubicin (8 mg/m) on days 1-2. Venetoclax (400 mg) was given on days 2-8 with each course. Patients with a known FLT3-ITD or FLT3-TKD mutation received midostaurin or gilteritinib. The primary outcome was composite complete response (complete response plus complete response with incomplete blood count recovery). Secondary outcomes were overall response, duration of response, event-free survival, overall survival, and safety. This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02115295.

Findings: Between Feb 25, 2019, and March 23, 2021, 77 patients were assessed for eligibility, 50 of whom were enrolled. Median age was 48 years (IQR 37-56). 47 (94% [95% CI 83-98]) patients had composite complete response, with the same proportion also having an overall response; two (4% [1-14]) patients did not respond, and one (2% [0-11]) patient died during induction. 37 (82% [95% CI 68-92]) of 45 patients had undetectable measurable residual disease (MRD). At a median follow-up of 13·5 months (IQR 6·4-19·5), the median duration of response, event-free survival, and overall survival were not reached. At 12 months, the estimated duration of response was 74% (95% CI 60-92), event-free survival was 68% (54-85), and overall survival was 85% (75-97). The most common adverse events of grade 3 or worse were febrile neutropenia (42 [84%] patients), infection (six [12%]), and alanine aminotransferase elevations (six [12%]). There was one death during induction in a patient treated with CLIA-venetoclax plus a FLT3 inhibitor. Two patients died of infectious complications while in complete response in consolidation cycles, both of whom had FLT3-mutated acute myeloid leukaemia and were receiving combined therapy with a FLT3 inhibitor. No deaths were deemed to be treatment related.

Interpretation: Venetoclax added to CLIA was safe and active in patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome, producing high rates of durable MRD-negative remissions and encouraging event-free survival and overall survival.

Funding: MD Anderson Cancer Center.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(21)00192-7DOI Listing
August 2021

Novel Therapeutic Approaches in Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm (BPDCN): Era of Targeted Therapy.

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 2021 Jun 10. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. Electronic address:

Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare hematologic malignancy arising from the aberrant transformation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and involving skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and central nervous system. Characteristically unique from other myeloid neoplasms, BPDCN cells express CD4, CD56, and CD123 as well as TCL-1 and TCF4 in almost all cases. Historically, this malignancy has exhibited a poor prognosis, with median survival of less than 2 years. Traditional treatment approaches have involved conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; however, patients frequently relapse with chemotherapy-resistant disease. We have recently entered a modern era of therapy with targeting of CD123, with first-in-class agent tagraxofusp, a CD123- targeted agent approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for therapy of patients with BPDCN ages 2 and older. Relapsed and refractory BPDCN remains an elusive therapeutic challenge, but better understanding of the underlying pathophysiology has led to the development of other CD123-targeted agents and combination therapy, as well as agents targeting beyond CD123. Specifically, the use of venetoclax in targeting BCL2 has been promising in BPDCN treatment. This review will focus on the underlying diagnostic markers of BPDCN which have led to novel targeted treatment strategies, as well as future directions in therapy we can expect in coming years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clml.2021.05.018DOI Listing
June 2021

Outcomes in patients with newly diagnosed TP53-mutated acute myeloid leukemia with or without venetoclax-based therapy.

Cancer 2021 Oct 28;127(19):3541-3551. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Venetoclax (VEN) in combination with a hypomethylating agent (HMA) has become the standard of care for patients aged >75 years and for those not eligible for intensive chemotherapy who have newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The benefit of VEN-based therapy in patients who have newly diagnosed AML with mutations in the TP53 gene (TP53 ) over standard therapy is undefined.

Methods: In this single-institutional, retrospective analysis, the authors assessed the clinical outcomes of 238 patients with newly diagnosed TP53 AML and compared the clinical characteristics, response to different therapies, and outcomes of those who received VEN-based (n = 58) and non-VEN-based (n = 180) regimens.

Results: Patients who received VEN-based regimens were older (aged >65 years: 81% vs 65%; P = .02) and had higher response rates (complete remission, 43% vs 32%; P = .06) than those who received non-VEN-based regimens. Compared with patients who received non-VEN-based regimens, no difference in overall survival (median, 6.6 vs 5.7 months; P = .4) or relapse-free survival (median, 4.7 vs 3.5 months; P = .43) was observed in those who received VEN-based regimens, regardless of age or intensity of treatment.

Conclusions: The addition of VEN to standard treatment regimens did not improve outcomes in younger or older patients who had TP53 AML. These data highlight the need for novel therapies beyond VEN to improve the outcome of patients with TP53 AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33675DOI Listing
October 2021

A phase 1b/2 study of azacitidine with PD-L1 antibody avelumab in relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia.

Cancer 2021 Jun 25. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have limited treatment options. In preclinical models of AML, inhibition of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis demonstrated antileukemic activity. Avelumab is an anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) approved in multiple solid tumors. The authors conducted a phase 1b/2 clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of azacitidine with avelumab in patients with R/R AML.

Methods: Patients aged ≥18 years who had R/R AML received azacitidine 75 mg/m on days 1 through 7 and avelumab on days 1 and 14 of 28-day cycles.

Results: Nineteen patients were treated. The median age was 66 years (range, 22-83 years), 100% had European LeukemiaNet 2017 adverse-risk disease, and 63% had prior exposure to a hypomethylating agent. Avelumab was dosed at 3 mg/kg for the first 7 patients and at 10 mg/kg for the subsequent 12 patients. The most common grade ≥3 treatment-related adverse events were neutropenia and anemia in 2 patients each. Two patients experienced immune-related adverse events of grade 2 and grade 3 pneumonitis, respectively. The overall complete remission rate was 10.5%, and both were complete remission with residual thrombocytopenia. The median overall survival was 4.8 months. Bone marrow blasts were analyzed for immune-related markers by mass cytometry and demonstrated significantly higher expression of PD-L2 compared with PD-L1 both pretherapy and at all time points during therapy, with increasing PD-L2 expression on therapy.

Conclusions: Although the combination of azacitidine and avelumab was well tolerated, clinical activity was limited. High expression of PD-L2 on bone marrow blasts may be an important mechanism of resistance to anti-PD-L1 therapy in AML.

Lay Summary: This report describes the results of a phase 1b/2 study of azacitidine with the anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor avelumab for patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The clinical activity of the combination therapy was modest, with an overall response rate of 10.5%. However, mass cytometry analysis revealed significantly higher expression of PD-L2 compared with PD-L1 on AML blasts from all patients who were analyzed at all time points. These data suggest a novel potential role for PD-L2 as a means of AML immune escape.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33690DOI Listing
June 2021

Clonal Dynamics and clinical implications of Post-Remission Clonal Hematopoiesis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

Blood 2021 Jun 3. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, United States.

While clonal hematopoiesis (CH) can precede the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), it can also persist after achieving remission. Long-term clonal dynamics and clinical implications of persistent CH are not well understood. Here, we studied the prevalence, dynamics and clinical implications of post-remission CH in 164 AML patients who attained complete remission after induction chemotherapies. Post-remission CH was identified in 79 (49%) patients. Post-remission CH persisted long-term in 91% of the trackable patients despite treatment with various types of consolidation and maintenance therapies. Post-remission CH was eradicated in 20 out of 21 (95%) patients who underwent allogeneic stem cell transplant. While patients with post-remission CH as a group had comparable hematopoiesis with those without it, patients with persistent TET2 mutations showed significant neutropenia long-term. Post-remission CH had little impact on relapse risk, non-relapse mortality, and incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, although the clinical impact of post-CR CH was heterogeneous among different mutations. These data suggest that while residual clonal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are generally resistant to consolidation and maintenance therapies, they retain the ability to maintain normal hematopoiesis and have little impact on clinical outcomes, although larger study is needed to dissect the gene-specific heterogeneity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020010483DOI Listing
June 2021

Ibrutinib Plus Venetoclax for First-line Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: A Nonrandomized Phase 2 Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2021 Aug;7(8):1213-1219

Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Importance: Oral targeted therapies have advanced the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These therapies include Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors, used as monotherapy, and the Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax, typically combined with the CD20 monoclonal antibody. Preclinical studies have shown synergy between Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the Bcl-2 inhibitor venetoclax.

Objective: To examine the rate of complete remission, complete remission with incomplete count recovery, and bone marrow-undetectable measurable residual disease (U-MRD) after treatment with the combination of ibrutinib and venetoclax.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A single-center, phase 2 nonrandomized trial enrolled patients from August 17, 2016, to June 5, 2018. Participants included previously untreated patients with CLL who met International Workshop on CLL 2008 criteria for treatment indication. Patients were required to have at least 1 of the following features: del(17p), TP53-mutated CLL, del(11q), unmutated immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable gene, or age 65 years or older.

Interventions: Therapy consisted of ibrutinib, 420 mg/d, monotherapy for 3 cycles, thereafter combined with venetoclax (standard weekly dose ramp-up to 400 mg/d) for a total of 24 cycles of combination treatment. Responses were assessed at serial points according to International Workshop on CLL 2008 criteria. Measurable residual disease (MRD) was assessed by multicolor flow cytometry with a sensitivity of 10-4.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Outcomes included complete remission, complete remission with incomplete count recovery, and bone marrow U-MRD rate.

Results: Eighty patients (57 [71%] men) were treated; median age was 65 years (range, 26-83 years). The median follow-up for all 80 patients was 38.5 months (range, 5.6-51.1 months). Five patients discontinued the study during the ibrutinib monotherapy phase; the remaining 75 patients received combination therapy. On an intent-to-treat analysis of combined treatment, 45 (56%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission at 12 cycles and 53 (66%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission at 24 cycles. Overall, 60 (75%) patients achieved bone marrow U-MRD remission as their best response. Responses were seen across all high-risk subgroups, independent of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable gene mutation status, fluorescence in situ hybridization category, or TP53 mutation. The 3-year progression-free survival was 93%, and 3-year overall survival was 96%. No patient had CLL progression; 2 patients developed Richter transformation.

Conclusions And Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that combination therapy with ibrutinib and venetoclax might be beneficial for previously untreated patients with CLL. Remissions appeared to be durable during a follow-up of more than 3 years, with activity seen across high-risk disease subgroups, including those with del(17p)/TP53-mutated CLL.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02756897.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.1649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8193546PMC
August 2021

Venetoclax Combined With FLAG-IDA Induction and Consolidation in Newly Diagnosed and Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

J Clin Oncol 2021 Sep 27;39(25):2768-2778. Epub 2021 May 27.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Purpose: Sixty percent of newly diagnosed patients with acute myeloid leukemia (ND-AML) receiving frontline therapy attain a complete response (CR), yet 30%-40% of patients relapse. Relapsed or refractory AML (R/R-AML) remains a particularly adverse population necessitating improved therapeutic options. This phase Ib/II study evaluated the safety and efficacy of fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin combined with the B-cell lymphoma-2 inhibitor venetoclax in ND-AML and R/R-AML.

Materials And Methods: The phase IB portion (PIB) enrolled patients with R/R-AML using a 3 + 3 dose escalation and de-escalation algorithm for identification of maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicities. The phase II portion enrolled patients into two arms to evaluate response and time-to-event end points: phase IIA (PIIA): ND-AML and phase IIB (PIIB): R/R-AML.

Results: Sixty-eight patients have enrolled to date (PIB, 16; PIIA, 29; PIIB, 23). Median age was 46 years (range, 20-73). Grade 3 and 4 adverse events occurring in ≥ 10% of patients included febrile neutropenia (50%), bacteremia (35%), pneumonia (28%), and sepsis (12%). The overall response rate for PIB, PIIA, and PIIB was 75%, 97%, and 70% with 75%, 90%, and 61%, respectively, achieving a composite CR. Measurable residual disease-negative composite CR was attained in 96% of ND-AML and 69% of R/R-AML patients. After a median follow-up of 12 months, median overall survival (OS) for both PII cohorts was not reached. Fifty-six percent of patients proceeded to allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (ND-AML, 69%; R/R-AML, 46%). In R/R-AML, allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation resulted in a significant improvement in OS (median OS, NR; 1-year OS, 87%). One-year survival post-HSCT was 94% in ND-AML and 78% in R/R-AML.

Conclusion: Fludarabine, cytarabine, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and idarubicin + venetoclax represents an effective intensive treatment regimen in ND-AML and R/R-AML patients, associated with deep remissions and a high rate of transition to successful transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.03736DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8407653PMC
September 2021

Superior efficacy of co-targeting GFI1/KDM1A and BRD4 against AML and post-MPN secondary AML cells.

Blood Cancer J 2021 May 20;11(5):98. Epub 2021 May 20.

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

There is an unmet need to overcome nongenetic therapy-resistance to improve outcomes in AML, especially post-myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) secondary (s) AML. Studies presented describe effects of genetic knockout, degradation or small molecule targeted-inhibition of GFI1/LSD1 on active enhancers, altering gene-expressions and inducing differentiation and lethality in AML and (MPN) sAML cells. A protein domain-focused CRISPR screen in LSD1 (KDM1A) inhibitor (i) treated AML cells, identified BRD4, MOZ, HDAC3 and DOT1L among the codependencies. Our findings demonstrate that co-targeting LSD1 and one of these co-dependencies exerted synergistic in vitro lethality in AML and post-MPN sAML cells. Co-treatment with LSD1i and the JAKi ruxolitinib was also synergistically lethal against post-MPN sAML cells. LSD1i pre-treatment induced GFI1, PU.1 and CEBPα but depleted c-Myc, overcoming nongenetic resistance to ruxolitinib, or to BETi in post-MPN sAML cells. Co-treatment with LSD1i and BETi or ruxolitinib exerted superior in vivo efficacy against post-MPN sAML cells. These findings highlight LSD1i-based combinations that merit testing for clinical efficacy, especially to overcome nongenetic therapy-resistance in AML and post-MPN sAML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41408-021-00487-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138012PMC
May 2021

Ibrutinib, fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and obinutuzumab (iFCG) regimen for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) with mutated IGHV and without TP53 aberrations.

Leukemia 2021 May 18. Epub 2021 May 18.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Chemoimmunotherapy with combined fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR) has been an effective treatment for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We initiated a phase II trial for previously untreated patients with CLL with mutated IGHV and absence of del(17p)/TP53 mutation. Patients received ibrutinib, fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and obinutuzumab (iFCG) for three cycles. Patients who achieved complete remission (CR)/CR with incomplete count recvoery (CRi) with marrow undetectable measurable residual disease (U-MRD) received additional nine cycles of ibrutinib with three cycles of obinutuzumab; all others received nine additional cycles of ibrutinib and obinutuzumab. Patients in marrow U-MRD remission after cycle 12 discontinued all treatment, including ibrutinib. Forty-five patients were treated. The median follow-up is 41.3 months. Among the total 45 treated patients, after three cycles, 38% achieved CR/CRi and 87% achieved marrow U-MRD. After cycle 12, the corresponding numbers were 67% and 91%, respectively. Overall, 44/45 (98%) patients achieved marrow U-MRD as best response. No patient had CLL progression. The 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 98% and 98%, respectively. Per trial design, all patients who completed cycle 12 discontinued ibrutinib, providing for a time-limited therapy. Grade 3-4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia occurred in 58% and 40% patients, respectively. The iFCG regimen with only 3 cycles of chemotherapy is an effective, time-limited regimen for patients with CLL with mutated IGHV and without del(17p)/TP53 mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41375-021-01280-8DOI Listing
May 2021

Targeting CD123 in hematologic malignancies: identifying suitable patients for targeted therapy.

Leuk Lymphoma 2021 May 17:1-19. Epub 2021 May 17.

Division of Cancer Medicine, Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Following the observation of interleukin 3 receptor α chain (IL-3Rα; CD123) upregulation on leukemia stem cells (LSCs) almost two decades ago, targeted treatment CD123-diptheria toxin conjugates has now been tested in patients with diverse myeloid malignancies. Targeted eradication of LSCs could result in effective treatments for many challenging diseases initiated by these cells. Consequently, considerable effort has been directed toward targeting CD123 as a potential strategy for treating patients with hematologic malignancies in which CD123 is overexpressed. However, these therapies have had limited success so far, highlighting the need for suitable criteria to identify patients who could benefit from them. Given the diversity in CD123 expression across different hematologic malignancies, understanding CD123 expression patterns and the functional pathogenetic significance is crucial. Here, we review the methodologies available for CD123 assessment and discuss the biological and clinical characteristics of patients for whom CD123-targeting therapies may have a clinical impact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10428194.2021.1927021DOI Listing
May 2021

Inotuzumab ozogamicin with bosutinib for relapsed or refractory Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia or lymphoid blast phase of chronic myeloid leukemia.

Am J Hematol 2021 08 28;96(8):1000-1007. Epub 2021 May 28.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Relapsed/refractory (R/R) Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph + ALL) and lymphoid blast phase of chronic myeloid leukemia (LBP-CML) have poor outcomes. We designed a phase 1/2 study combining inotuzumab ozogamicin with bosutinib for this patient population. Patients with T315I mutation were excluded. Bosutinib was administered daily at three dose levels (300 mg/d, 400 mg/d, 500 mg/d) in a 3 + 3 design. Inotuzumab ozogamicin was dosed weekly during cycle one, and once every 4 weeks subsequently for a total of six cycles. The primary objective was to determine the safety and the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of bosutinib in combination with inotuzumab ozogamicin. Eighteen patients were enrolled (Ph-positive ALL, n = 16; LBP-CML, n = 2). The median age was 62 years (range, 19-74) and the median number of prior therapies was one (range, 1-5). Dose limiting toxicities included grade 3 skin rash and bosutinib 400 mg daily was determined as the MTD. The most frequent grade 3/4 treatment-emergent adverse events were thrombocytopenia (60%) and neutropenia (38%). A complete response (CR) / CR with incomplete count recovery (CRi) was achieved in 15/18 (83%) patients; 11/18 (61%) patients achieved negative measurable residual disease by flow cytometry. Complete molecular response was noted in 10/18 (56%) patients. The 30-day mortality was 0%. After a median follow-up of 44 months, the median duration of response and overall survival were 7.7 months and 13.5 months, respectively. Six patients had a subsequent allogeneic stem cell transplant. No patient developed veno-occlusive disease. Inotuzumab ozogamicin with bosutinib was well tolerated in R/R Ph-positive ALL and LBP-CML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.26238DOI Listing
August 2021

Clinicopathologic correlates and natural history of atypical chronic myeloid leukemia.

Cancer 2021 Sep 29;127(17):3113-3124. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: There are limited data on the clonal mechanisms underlying leukemogenesis, prognostic factors, and optimal therapy for atypical chronic myeloid leukemia (aCML).

Methods: The authors evaluated the clinicopathologic features, outcomes, and responses to therapy of 65 patients with aCML. The median age was 67 years (range, 46-89 years).

Results: The most frequently mutated genes included ASXL1 (83%), SRSF2 (68%), and SETBP1 (58%). Mutations in SETBP1, SRSF2, TET2, and GATA2 appeared at variant allele frequencies (VAFs) greater than 40%, whereas other RAS pathway mutations were more likely to appear at low VAFs. The acquisition of new, previously undetectable mutations at transformation was observed in 63% of the evaluable patients, with the most common involving signaling pathway mutations. Hypomethylating agents (HMAs) were associated with the highest response rates but with a short duration of response (median, 2.7 months). Therapy with ruxolitinib was not associated with clinically significant responses as a single agent or in combination with an HMA. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation was the only therapy associated with improved outcomes (hazard ratio, 0.144; 95% CI, 0.035-0.593; P = .007). Age, platelet counts, bone marrow blast percentages, and serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels were independent predictors of survival and were integrated in a multivariable model that allowed the prediction of 1- and 3-year survival.

Conclusions: aCML is characterized by high frequencies of ASXL1, SRSF2, and SETBP1 mutations and is associated with a high risk of acute myeloid leukemia transformation. Response and survival outcomes with current therapies remain poor. The incorporation of age, platelet counts, bone marrow blast percentages, and LDH levels can allow survival prediction, and allogeneic stem cell transplantation should be considered for all eligible patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33622DOI Listing
September 2021

Long-term results of low-intensity chemotherapy with clofarabine or cladribine combined with low-dose cytarabine alternating with decitabine in older patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia.

Am J Hematol 2021 08 26;96(8):914-924. Epub 2021 May 26.

Department of Leukemia, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

The treatment of older patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) using intensive chemotherapy is associated with treatment intolerance and poor survival. We evaluated two new lower-intensity regimens with clofarabine (n = 119) or cladribine (n = 129) combined with low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) alternating with decitabine. We reviewed response rates by subgroup and long term outcomes of 248 patients with newly diagnosed non core-binding-factor AML treated on two clinical trials investigating double nucleoside-analogue therapy (DNT) alternating with HMA from October, 2008 to April, 2018. Of 248 patients with a median age of 69 years (range, 49-85 years), 102 patients (41%) were ≥ 70 years, and 108 (44%) had adverse karyotype. Overall, 164 patients (66%) responded: 147 (59%) complete remission (CR) and 17 (7%) CR with incomplete count recovery (CRi). With a median follow up of 60 months, median relapse-free and overall survival (OS) were 10.8 and 12.5 months, respectively. The 2-year OS was 29%. Among patients with normal karyotype, the CR/CRi rate was 79% and the median OS 19.9 months. High response rates and OS were observed in patients with mutations in NPM1, FLT3, IDH2, and RUNX1. The 4- and 8-week mortality rates were 2% and 11%, respectively. The backbone of clofarabine or cladribine and LDAC alternating with decitabine was effective and safe for the treatment of older patients with newly diagnosed AML. Incorporating targeted therapies could extend the efficacy of this approach and provide more curative therapeutic options in this AML population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.26206DOI Listing
August 2021

A call to action for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia in the modern era: It is no longer just about the ATRA and arsenic.

Authors:
Naveen Pemmaraju

Cancer 2021 Aug 23;127(16):2867-2869. Epub 2021 Apr 23.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33594DOI Listing
August 2021

Impact of splicing mutations in acute myeloid leukemia treated with hypomethylating agents combined with venetoclax.

Blood Adv 2021 04;5(8):2173-2183

Department of Leukemia and.

Spliceosome mutations (SRSF2, SF3B1, U2AF1, ZRSR2), are encountered in ∼50% of secondary acute myeloid leukemia cases (sAML) and define a molecular subgroup with outcomes similar to sAML in de novo AML patients treated with intensive chemotherapy. Outcomes in patients with spliceosome mutations treated with hypomethylating agents in combination with venetoclax (HMA+VEN) remains unknown. The primary objective was to compare outcomes in patients with spliceosome mutations vs wild-type patients treated with HMA+VEN. Secondary objectives included analysis of the mutational landscape of the spliceosome cohort and assessing the impact of co-occurring mutations. We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of patients treated with HMA+VEN-based regimens at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. A total of 119 patients (spliceosome mutated n = 39 [SRSF2, n = 24; SF3B1, n = 8; U2AF1, n = 7]; wild-type, n = 80) were included. Similar responses were observed between spliceosome and wild-type cohorts for composite complete response (CRc; 79% vs 75%, P = .65), and measurable residual disease-negative CRc (48% vs 60%, P = .34). Median overall survival for spliceosome vs wild-type patients was 35 vs 14 months (P = .58), and was not reached; 35 months and 8 months for patients with SRSF2, SF3B1, and U2AF1 mutations, respectively. IDH2 mutations were enriched in patients with SRSF2 mutations and associated with favorable outcomes (1- and 2-year overall survival [OS] of 100% and 88%). RAS mutations were enriched in patients with U2AF1 mutations and associated with inferior outcomes (median OS, 8 months). Comparable outcomes were observed between patients with vs without spliceosome mutations treated with HMA+VEN regimens, with specific co-mutation pairs demonstrating favorable outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020004173DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095152PMC
April 2021

Single-center experience with venetoclax combinations in patients with newly diagnosed and relapsed AML evolving from MPNs.

Blood Adv 2021 04;5(8):2156-2164

In patients with acute myeloid leukemia evolving from myeloproliferative neoplasms (post-MPN-AML), the clinical activity of the B-cell lymphoma 2 inhibitor venetoclax remains to be determined. We review our experience with venetoclax-based regimens in 14 newly diagnosed (frontline [FL]) and 17 relapsed/refractory (R/R) post-MPN-AML patients. Venetoclax was used in combination with hypomethylating agents in 58% of cases and in 19% with intensive chemotherapy (treatment including cytarabine ≥1 g/m2 or CPX-351); the remaining patients received cladribine and low-dose cytarabine or isocitrate dehydrogenase 1/2 inhibitors. The median dose of venetoclax during the initial cycle was 100 mg in all patients (range, 50-800 mg) and 200 mg (range, 100-800 mg) for FL patients. The venetoclax dose was adjusted when used concomitantly with azole antifungal agents. In FL patients, complete remission with and without count recovery in 6 patients (median duration of 6.4 months) and partial remission in 1 patient was noted, with a median overall survival of 7 months. In R/R patients, no formal responses were seen, with a median overall survival of 3 months. Hematologic toxicities and adverse events were frequent; 83% of patients developed grade 3 or higher infection during the initial cycle. Severe hemorrhagic complications were observed in 14 patients, including 6 cases of intracranial and subdural hemorrhage. Overall 4-week and 8-week mortality were 10% and 32%, respectively. Given the substantial treatment-associated hematologic toxicity and mortality, and modest short-lived responses only in newly diagnosed patients with venetoclax-based regimens, additional treatment options are urgently needed for these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003934DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095138PMC
April 2021

A phase I/II study of the combination of quizartinib with azacitidine or low-dose cytarabine for the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Haematologica 2021 Aug 1;106(8):2121-2130. Epub 2021 Aug 1.

Department of Leukemia, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with poor prognosis. We hypothesized that quizartinib, a selective and potent FLT3 inhibitor, with azacitidine (AZA) or low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) might improve the outcomes in patients with FLT3-ITD-mutated AML. In this open-label phase I/II trial, patients of any age receiving first-salvage treatment for FLT3-ITD AML or age >60 years with untreated myelodysplastic syndrome or AML were treated with quizartinib plus AZA or LDAC. Seventy-three patients were treated (34 frontline, 39 first-salvage). Among previously untreated patients, composite response (CRc) was achieved in 13/15 (87%, 8 CR, 4 Cri, 1 CRp) treated with quizartinib/AZA and 14/19 (74%, 1 CR, 8 CRi, 5 CRp) in quizartinib/LDAC. The median OS was 19.2 months for quizartinib/AZA and 8.5 months for quizartinib/LDAC cohort; RFS was 10.5 and 6.4 months, respectively. Among previously treated patients, 16 (64%) achieved CRc in quizartinib/AZA and 4 (29%) in quizartinib/LDAC. The median OS for patients treated with quizartinib/AZA and quizartinib/LDAC was 12.8 vs. 4 months, respectively. QTc prolongation grade 3 occurred in only 1 patient in each cohort. Quizartinib-based combinations, particularly with AZA, appear effective in both frontline and first-salvage for patients with FLT3-ITD-mutated AML and are well tolerated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2020.263392DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8327731PMC
August 2021

Duration of cytopenias with concomitant venetoclax and azole antifungals in acute myeloid leukemia.

Cancer 2021 Jul 1;127(14):2489-2499. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Venetoclax (VEN) combined with the hypomethylating agent (HMA) azacitidine improves survival in patients aged ≥75 years with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML). VEN and HMA treatment can result in prolonged and often profound neutropenia, and this warrants antifungal prophylaxis. Azole antifungals inhibit cytochrome P450 3A4, the primary enzyme responsible for VEN metabolism; this results in VEN dose reductions for each concomitant antifungal. Limited clinical data exist on outcomes for patients treated with VEN, an HMA, and various azoles.

Methods: The time to neutrophil recovery (absolute neutrophil count [ANC] > 1000 cells/mm ) and platelet (PLT) recovery (PLT count > 100,000 cells/mm ) in 64 patients with newly diagnosed AML who achieved a response after course 1 of VEN plus an HMA were evaluated. HMA therapy included azacitidine (75 mg/m intravenously/subcutaneously for 7 days) or decitabine (20 mg/m intravenously for 5 or 10 days).

Results: Forty-seven patients (73%) received an azole: posaconazole (n = 17; 27%), voriconazole (n = 9; 14%), isavuconazole (n = 20; 31%), or fluconazole (n = 1; 2%). The median time to ANC recovery were similar for patients who did receive an azole (37 days; 95% confidence interval [CI], 34-38 days) and patients who did not receive an azole (39 days; 95% CI, 30 days to not estimable; P = .8). The median time to PLT recovery was significantly longer for patients receiving azoles (28 vs 22 days; P = .01). The median times to ANC recovery (35 vs 38 days) and PLT recovery (26 vs 32 days) were similar with posaconazole and voriconazole.

Conclusions: VEN plus an HMA resulted in neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, with the latter prolonged in patients receiving concomitant azoles. Concomitant posaconazole or voriconazole and VEN (100 mg) resulted in similar ANC and PLT recovery times, suggesting the safety of these dosage combinations during course 1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33508DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8249340PMC
July 2021

Prognostic value of measurable residual disease after venetoclax and decitabine in acute myeloid leukemia.

Blood Adv 2021 04;5(7):1876-1883

Department of Biostatistics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Assessment of measurable residual disease (MRD) provides prognostic information in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, the utility of MRD with venetoclax-based lower intensity regimens is unknown. We analyzed the prognostic value of achieving a negative MRD in older/"unfit" patients with AML receiving first-line therapy with 10-day decitabine and venetoclax. MRD was evaluated in bone marrow specimens using multicolor flow cytometry (sensitivity 0.1%). Ninety-seven patients achieving either a complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi) or morphologic leukemia-free state were included. Median age was 72 years (interquartile range, 68-78 years), and 64% had adverse-risk AML. Eighty-three patients achieved CR/CRi, and 52 (54%) became MRD negative. Median time to becoming MRD negative was 2.0 months (interquartile range, 0.9-3.1 months). Patients becoming MRD negative by 2 months had longer relapse-free survival (RFS) compared with those remaining MRD positive (median RFS, not reached vs 5.2 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.12-0.78; P = .004), longer event-free survival (EFS) (median EFS, not reached vs 5.8 months; HR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.12-0.55; P < .001), as well as longer overall survival (OS) (median OS, 25.1 vs 7.1 months; HR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.11-0.51; P < .001). Patients achieving an MRD-negative CR had longer OS compared with those with an inferior response (median OS, 25.1 vs 11.6 months; HR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.19-0.58; P < .0005). Patients becoming MRD negative within 1 month had an improved OS compared with MRD-positive patients (median OS, 25.1 vs 3.4 months; HR, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.03-0.64; P < .0001). Differential impact of MRD status on survival outcomes persisted at a later 4-month time point of evaluation. In conclusion, MRD-negative status at 1, 2, and 4 months after starting therapy confers significantly better survival in older/unfit patients with AML receiving first-line therapy with 10-day decitabine and venetoclax. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT03404193.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003717DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045494PMC
April 2021
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